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Expect a Slimmer (and Better) Marcus Smart

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fourth-year guard Marcus Smart has undergone a fairly significant body transformation in preparation for the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season. In fact, the change has been so significant that some of his Boston Celtics teammates couldn’t recognize him.

“He looks good, man,” said Celtics’ forward Jaylen Brown according to CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “He’s moving a lot faster. He’s jumping a lot higher; it’s kind of weird to see him like that. To see him now, he’s like 25 pounds lighter. It’s like, ‘Who is this guy?’ ”

“He looks good. He’s a lot faster, jumping higher. It’s weird,” Brown added.

Smart, who checked in at 240 pounds last year, decided to loose the weight to improve both his play and physical health. Blakely reported that the Oklahoma State product said he felt his body wouldn’t allow him to keep his tenacity level all the up during the entirety of an NBA contest. The extra pounds were also leading Smart to experience painful back problems before and during games.

In order to rectify these issues the 23-year old worked relentlessly during the offseason to drop weight. Taylor C. Snow of Celtics.com tweeted that Smart said ” “I’ve been in the gym non-stop. It’s a new me. I’m more explosive.” Smart was ultimately able to slim down to 223 pounds which he hopes will allow him to become an even more versatile defender.

The lanky 6-foot-4 guard is already known for his ability to guard multiple positions. Over the course of his career Smart has matched up with players like LeBron James, Paul Milsap, and Kristaps Porzingis, all of whom are four or more inches taller than him.

Most notably was his performance defending against Millsap during Game 4 in the first round of the 2015-16 NBA Playoffs. The Atlanta Hawks power forward had dropped a whopping 41 points on Boston before head coach Brad Stevens switched Smart onto him towards the end of the game. Over the final 14 minutes of the contest Smart shut down Millsap, holding him to just four points on 2 for 6 shooting. Two of those four missed shots by Millsap ended up being air balls, as Smart’s face guarding and harassing style of defense got the better of his opponent down the stretch.

Here’s an example of Smart not allowing himself to be bullied by a larger opposing player. Smart’s strength doesn’t give Millsap the option to back him down, while his quick feet force the forward to settle for a fade-away jump shot with a hand in his face.

“Smart did a great job on him,” former Celtics’ forward Evan Turner told MassLive’s Jay King at the time. “He kept him on 45 for like 20 minutes. That sounds crazy but Smart stopped him from getting 50. Make sure you put that in the paper.”

If Smart’s weight loss doesn’t effect his strength (which he assured the media it would not), he could be Boston’s best and most complete defender next season.

After the offseason trades of forward Jae Crowder and guard Avery Bradley, two of the Celtics’ best players on the defensive end a year ago, Smart’s improvement will be invaluable to his team. His increased quickness will help Boston’s backcourt when guarding some of the Eastern Conference’s faster guards such as John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Kemba Walker.

The combination of better perimeter defense and lack of change in strength for Smart should lead to a fantastic season for the young player.

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Jack Aylmer is a co-founder of Prime Time Sports Talk. His written work has been featured on a host of sports news sites, including: Pro Football Spot, New York Sports Hub, Elite Sports New York, and the nationally recognized sports media provider Bleacher Report. In addition to co-founding "Prime Time Sports Talk," during his time at Emerson College he has worked as a correspondent on EIV's "The Boxscore", a host on Emerson Channel's "Lions Den", and a color commentator on "Emerson Sports Channel."

About Jack Aylmer (44 Articles)
Jack Aylmer is a co-founder of Prime Time Sports Talk. His written work has been featured on a host of sports news sites, including: Pro Football Spot, New York Sports Hub, Elite Sports New York, and the nationally recognized sports media provider Bleacher Report. In addition to co-founding "Prime Time Sports Talk," during his time at Emerson College he has worked as a correspondent on EIV's "The Boxscore", a host on Emerson Channel's "Lions Den", and a color commentator on "Emerson Sports Channel."

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